Ole Miss 91, Missouri 88: Study Hall

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss outshot and outrebounded Mizzou and dominated the ball control battle. And Mizzou still had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. What?

Your Trifecta: Brown-Ross-Clarkson.

The Rebels are going to take a ton of 3-pointers, and they're going to go for a ton of steals and blocks. They throw uppercuts, sometimes with little rhyme or reason. If the risks are successful -- if Marshall Henderson is knocking down 25-footers, if Henderson and Derrick Millinghaus are successfully stepping into passing lanes -- Ole Miss is a tremendous basketball team. But if the 3s are rimming out and the steal attempts instead lead to open 3-pointers, the Rebels can be pretty easily beaten. They dictate their fate to a large degree, which is disconcerting in a game that Mizzou would really, really like to win.

I should frame Friday's preview because I'm never going to be more right than I was there. In the first half, Ole Miss destroyed Missouri with 3-pointers (many of which were ill-advised) and pressure defense. In the second half, Mizzou quickly came back in part because Ole Miss became extremely erratic. And down the stretch, Ole Miss played a nearly perfect couple of minutes to go up by eight points with 19 seconds left, then turned the ball over twice in the last six seconds and almost lost the entire lead.

Yes, Missouri played a role in all parts -- the first-half deficit (sloppy, sloppy, sloppy), the second-half comeback (nearly perfect offense), the late fade (too many 3-pointers) and the last-second surge (look at the 3-pointers!). But Ole Miss defined the terms of the game. The Rebels added a few tablespoons of crazy to the swimming pool and maneuvered around much more adeptly in it than Missouri.

Ole Miss 91, Missouri 88

Mizzou
Ole Miss
Pace (No. of Possessions) 68.9
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.28 1.32
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.49 1.57
2-PT FG% 54.8% 51.7%
3-PT FG% 39.3% 48.3%
FT% 80.8% 67.9%
True Shooting % 62.5% 64.7%
Mizzou Ole Miss
Assists 15 19
Steals 3 6
Turnovers 12 11
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.50 2.27
Mizzou Ole Miss
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11.5 11.6
Offensive Rebounds 11 14
Difference -0.5 +2.4

Mizzou really needed a real victory, not a moral victory, in this one. But if you'd told me Ole Miss was going to shoot 14-for-29 from 3-point range (9-for-16 in the first half), I'd have assumed Mizzou would lose by about 16. So there's that, I guess?

The "process-versus-outcome" nerd in me haaaaaaaates teams like Ole Miss. Or maybe it's just Marshall Henderson. Or maybe it just hates basketball. Either/or. If you'd have paused the game as Ole Miss players were shooting their 3-pointers, I'd have been happy with them taking about two-thirds of them. They were ill-advised shots, and they went in ... one after another after another.

You remember how we used to get mad at Kim English for not going straight up with his jump shot? You remember how Kimmie would shoot about 8% on 3s when he wasn't going straight up? Marshall Henderson goes straight sideways. He comes off of a curl, barely sets his feet, jumps and fires. That is an impossible shot, and it's pretty obvious why he has some awful shooting games -- 2-for-9 against South Carolina (Feb. 1), 8-for-34 against South Carolina, Vandy, and Mississippi State (Jan. 18-25). But he's going to take those stupid shots, and you're not going to stop him, and in the games in which he makes them, Ole Miss is going to be nearly impossible to beat. You're a hostage to his stupidity, and ... well, he shot 8-for-15 on 3-pointers yesterday. And when he started making them, his confidence skyrocketed, and he suddenly became Magic Johnson passing the ball. And the team's pressure defense started to click as well. He's why you never want to fight the crazy guy. You'll beat him plenty, but he's going to beat you sometimes, too, and he's going to embarrass the hell out of you when he does it.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Jabari Brown 24.7 0.63 39 Min, 20 Pts (6-13 FG, 1-6 3PT, 7-7 FT), 7 Reb (2 Off), 4 Ast, 1 TO, 1 PF
Earnest Ross 23.4 0.60 39 Min, 24 Pts (6-15 FG, 5-14 3PT, 7-11 FT), 6 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF
Jordan Clarkson 21.6 0.60 36 Min, 23 Pts (8-16 FG, 3-5 3PT, 4-4 FT), 5 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 4 PF
Ryan Rosburg 13.3 0.49 27 Min, 11 Pts (5-7 FG, 1-2 FT), 5 Reb (3 Off), 1 Blk, 4 PF
Wes Clark 7.3 0.38 19 Min, 6 Pts (2-5 FG, 2-3 3PT), 2 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Torren Jones 3.5 0.39 9 Min, 4 Pts (1-1 FG, 2-2 FT), 3 PF
Keanau Post 0.0 0.00 2 Min
Shane Rector -0.6 -0.56 1 Min, 0 Pts, 1 PF
Johnathan Williams III -3.1 -0.14 22 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG), 6 Reb (3 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 4 TO, 3 PF
Tony Criswell -3.6 -0.61 6 Min, 0 Pts, 1 TO, 4 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Brown 21% 48% 3.1 55% 30% 12% 2%
Ross 27% 39% 3.6 48% 31% 17% 4%
Clarkson 28% 44% 3.2 45% 40% 7% 8%
Rosburg 14% 62% 0.9 0% 83% 17% 0%
Clark 15% 41% 3.6 75% 21% 0% 4%
Jones 10% 69% 0.8 0% 41% 59% 0%
Williams 13% 6% 1.6 50% 17% 0% 34%
Criswell 8% 0% 0.5 0% 0% 0% 100%

Missouri got 16.8 Adj. GS points from Ryan Rosburg and Torren Jones. AND LOST. That should never, ever, ever, ever happen. But two other Mizzou bigs (Williams, Criswell) played absolutely wretched, horrific games -- it's funny, by the way, that we all immediately assumed we knew who was the subject of these two tweets (and that we're probably right) -- and while Rosburg and Jones provided unforeseen offense (15 points on 6-for-8 shooting), they also combined for just two defensive rebounds in 36 minutes. We knew Ole Miss was a decent offensive rebounding team, and they outdid Mizzou in this regard; and while Williams and Criswell very much had a role to play in that, so did Rosburg and Jones.

(I see you, Wes Clark, with your third straight decent game. Three's a streak!)

Three Keys Revisited

From Friday's preview.

BCI! BCI!

If you're not turning the ball over against Ole Miss, you're probably getting a pretty decent shot attempt. The Rebels also block a ton of shots, but you can live with that if you're getting good looks from 3-point range and grabbing offensive rebounds. Ole Miss has a big advantage over Missouri on both sides of the ball in this category, and if the Tigers can limit the damage, they could be alright.

BCI: Ole Miss 2.27, Mizzou 1.50
First-Half BCI: Ole Miss 3.20, Mizzou 0.50.

The damage was done in the first half, obviously. Ole Miss couldn't miss 3s, and Mizzou got punch-drunk and sloppy. Again, the rally was impressive, but it's generally not a good idea to fall down by 18 points in the first half on the road.

The 3-Ball

Jabari Brown is one of the best 3-point shooters in the country, and Marshall Henderson is the most high-volume 3-pointer shooter in the country. If he's making his I-dare-you 3s and Summers (an actually good shooter) is getting decent looks while nobody but Brown is making 3s for Missouri (or Brown has his first off-night in more than a month), Mizzou's probably in trouble.

3-pointers: Ole Miss 14-for-29 (48%), Mizzou 11-for-28 (39%)

Jabari Brown was 1-for-6, Marshall Henderson was 8-for-15, and ... how in the hell was this a close game in the end??

The Glass

Ole Miss is a decent offensive rebounding team and (again, because of the blocks) a terrible defensive rebounding team. Mizzou lives and dies to some extent by rebounding -- they destroyed Arkansas on the glass and lost tight battles to both Florida and Kentucky -- and will need to win this battle by at least a couple in terms of expected rebounds.

Expected Rebounds: Ole Miss +2.9

Honestly, this was as damaging as the 3-pointers. Obviously Ole Miss' huge rebound off of the missed free throw with 30 seconds left was enormous, but that wasn't the only breakdown on the boards. If Mizzou is +2 instead of -3 in this category, the Tigers win despite all the random 3-point shooting and ball-handling errors.

Summary

Four games ago, when Mizzou entered its most brutal six-game stretch of the season, I stated that a 4-2 mark in this six games would put the Tigers in good position for a tourney bid, a 3-3 record would leave them with quite a bit of work to do, and anything worse would put them in a nearly impossible position to make up ground. They're currently 1-3. That includes a great road win where few visitors win (Fayetteville), two ultra-competitive losses to the league's two best teams, and a dramatic road comeback that fell just short.

The quality of play has been pretty strong for 3.5 of the four games, but the Tigers have only won once, which means the next two games -- home games against Arkansas and Tennessee -- are probably the first two true "You must win, or you're probably not going to the tourney" games Mizzou's faced since ... when, exactly? 2011? 2004? It's been a frustrating season, and this team is flawed in 20 different ways, but if they maintain their (mostly) recent level of play, they could play themselves right back into the tournament. I'm not necessarily holding my breath, but this obviously isn't an impossible goal.

I think the most frustrating thing about this season right now is that Missouri is beginning to shore up the weaknesses we saw a few weeks ago, and the Tigers have still figured out ways to barely lose three straight games. Wes Clark has been a decent to solid point guard for each of the four games in this tough stretch. Ryan Rosburg is averaging seven points and six rebounds per game in the last four, which isn't amazing, but is far more than what he was offering before that.

Mizzou is actually getting contributions outside of its Big 3, but as the Tigers patch up one hole, another one opens.

Earnest Ross shot horribly against Kentucky and Florida.

Mizzou got pummeled on the glass against Kentucky and Ole Miss.

Neither Kentucky nor Ole Miss could miss from 3-point range (on both well-executed and dumb shots).

Johnathan Williams III is 3-for-15 from the floor in four games.

Mizzou is doing what we thought it needed to do to get better, and other things are now holding the Tigers back instead. In the end, this is simply what happens when you have a flawed team with minimal margin for error. It can improve, and it can win some games, but it's really difficult to cast a net around all of its problems without leaving yourself vulnerable in some other way.

But on the bright side, the next three games are at home, and according to Pomeroy, the Tigers have a 50% or greater chance of winning each of the next seven games. A win yesterday wouldn't have sealed Mizzou's fate, and a loss didn't either. Either Mizzou rallies, or we only have to watch this frustrating team for a few more weeks. Win-win, I guess.

---

AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game. The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?". The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, Touches attempt to estimate "the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor." Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession. For point guards, you'll see the number in the 3-4 range. For shooting guards and wings, 2-3. For an offensively limited center, 1.30. You get the idea.

Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player "in an attacking position" passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.

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